Verdict Against Diocese Stands

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
January 26, 2000

Altoona - The state Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its decision that the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and a former bishop can be held liable for the actions of a Catholic priest accused of molesting a child.

The court made its decision Monday and released it yesterday. It gave no reason for deciding against the diocese's request that it be allowed to argue against the court's order last November.

The case centered on whether the diocese, former Bishop James Hogan and St. Therese Church in Altoona could be held liable for the actions of the Rev. Francis Luddy, who was accused of molesting a slightly retarded teen-ager on numerous occasions from 1976 to 1984.

In 1994, after a civil trial in Blair County, a jury decided that St. Therese, Hogan and the diocese knew that Luddy had molested children and were negligent in supervising him. The jury awarded $ 1.6 million in damages.

Superior Court later reversed the decision, but the Supreme Court reinstated the verdict against the diocese and Hogan last November. Justice Sandra Schultz Newman wrote in the majority opinion that the diocese and Hogan knew that Luddy "had a propensity for pedophiliac behavior."


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